‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’
Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B
The arrival of some Greeks shows how the ministry of Jesus breaks the bounds of Judaism – and allows Jesus to speak of his willingness to give his life for all. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
20 Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. 23 Jesus replied to them:
‘Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. 25 Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life. 26 If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him. 27 Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!’
A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29 People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’ 30 Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours. 31 Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself.’ 33 By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.
Other readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34 Psalm 50 (51) Hebrews 5:7-9
One of the features of the Gospel of John is that Jesus is frequently in Jerusalem. This particular episode comes as his ministry ends. The following chapters will tell of the washing of the disciples’ feet and report the words of Jesus to the disciples on the night before he died. The story of the passion will then begin. This text is therefore particularly apt as we draw closer to Holy Week.
The arrival of some Greeks shows how the ministry of Jesus breaks the bounds of Judaism. Their coming allows Jesus to speak of his hour and his willingness to give his life for all. The seed which must die to produce a harvest is a powerful image of his death. A voice is heard from the cloud, as at the Transfiguration in the other gospels, but here it speaks of the ‘glory’ that will come to Jesus for giving up his life. Once again, as in earlier chapters, Jesus speaks of being lifted up. It is in his death and resurrection that he draws all people to himself, both Jew and Greek.
Do I still desire to ‘see Jesus’ and learn about him?
Whom have I brought to Jesus recently?
Let us pray for the mission of the Church to the nations of the world.
Let us pray for a deeper faith and love as we approach the ‘hour’ of Jesus in Holy Week.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy